Why it matters
The large disparities in European cancer care both among and within countries remains a long-term priority for ECPC. For every Elsa in Sweden who has an 86% chance of survival following treatment for breast cancer, there is an Ilsa and Elze just across the Baltic Sea in Latvia and Lithuania whose survival chances drop to 69% and 66% respectively. National cancer plans lack coordination among Member States, are often based on inadequate information and, due to a lack of patient-centricity, fail to take account of the multitudes of ways that cancer affects individuals. Inequalities can be addressed by increasing patients’ access to up-to-date information, decreasing the variability in cancer screening rates, providing equal access to cancer treatments and rehabilitation services, addressing the fiscal and governance deficits in health planning and implementing patient-centred cancer survivorship plans.
“Cancer does not care where you are from and yet cancer patients are faced with unequal access to quality care depending on where in Europe they reside and receive treatment”
What ECPC adds
After our members raised the alarm in 2014 over increasing health inequalities across Europe, ECPC acted decisively as part of the European Cancer Concord (ECC). We launched the Cancer Patients’ Bill of Rights in collaboration with Members of the European Parliament and engaged academics and our members in drafting a White Paper ‘Challenging the Europe of Disparities.’ Launched at the 2015 European Cancer Congress in Vienna, the White Paper details the reality of disparities across Europe and our view on addressing them.
Despite several initiatives at the EU level, such as the European Partnership for Action Against Cancer (EPAAC) and the Joint Action on Cancer Control (CanCon) where the White Paper directly informed select CanCon recommendations for the development of national cancer plans. ECPC is working with the oncology community to drive implementation of the CanCon recommendations through initiatives such as the Innovative Partnership for Action Against Cancer (iPAAC) and is building the evidence base for the capacity-building of ECPC member organisations’ policy and advocacy capabilities. The White Paper ‘Challenging the Europe of Disparities’ also remains a powerful resource for shedding light on inequalities faced by cancer patients in Member States.